Some games pride themselves on a variety of gameplay, mixing numerous complex systems together into a sort of miniature world. Other games aim to do one thing really well, turning an entire game out of a comparatively simple concept. That isn’t necessarily worse than the alternative; some classics like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds really nail a simple concept and are all the better for it. Sometimes, though, you’ve got a game that does one thing well…and still doesn’t quite have enough to make for a worthwhile experience. Extinction is a great example of how that can be a little disappointing.
The world is in danger! In fact, it’s been in danger for quite awhile. The giant ogres called Ravenii have been laying waste to the humanity and hope’s pretty much gone at this point. What’s left is survival, and this goal is placed in the hands of Avil, the last of a clan of mystical swordsmen called the Sentinels. Avil will have to find allies, save civilians and try to beat back the endless tide of Ravenii.
Our hero has a sword, some springy legs, a grappling hook and the ability to activate escape portals strewn throughout each level. Your arsenal doesn’t really expand much from this baseline, though purchasable skills will add new sword combos and provide the usual percentage-based boosts to various stats. Saving civilians using those rescue portals and swording up the smaller mook-type Jackals will build up Avil’s rune energy. With a full charge of rune energy, you can then deal the killing blow to a Ravenii by slashing at the base of their neck…which might sound familiar. Taking out a Ravenii drains your energy, so you’ll have to build it back up again to repeat. On the defensive side of things, you’ve got a health bar that really only applies when fighting Jackals, as a hit from a Ravenii will almost certainly spell instant death.
That’s…well, that’s about it, really. Much as the theme brings to mind Attack on Titan, for better or worse the gameplay also calls to mind that series and its associated games. What that means is that you’re going to spend a whole lot of time doing a whole lot of the same stuff repeatedly: save civilians and beat up Jackals to build energy, spend that energy on killing a Ravenii, repeat. Do it all quickly or the Ravenii will kill enough civlians or smash enough buildings to result in a mission failure. Whether or not you consider this a bad thing is probably going to relate to how well you can tolerate simple arcade-style gameplay of this nature – and it’s worth noting that Attack on Titan doesn’t have this tedious energy-building requirement, instead rewarding risky direct attacks on your giant foes.
Likewise, Extinction looks pretty good and certainly stands out in action, but it’s let down by an uninteresting plot presented in an uninteresting way. I’m the first one to say that a game’s story matters much less than solid gameplay, but Extinction clearly thinks very highly of its own conceit and thus it’s kind of unavoidable. The characters jabber nonstop and rarely say much of note. There’s not enough variety in what you’re doing to give them a lot to talk about.
For my money, Extinction is decent and can be enjoyable, but it’s absolutely not worth the $60 asking price. That “nay,” then, is written with the caveat that when the game drops to $30 or so (give it a couple months) then it might be worth checking out. A game built entirely around a single decent gameplay loop can work, but it needs a lot of support in the form of enemy variety, quirky level design or an interesting plot to seal the deal. Extinction, unfortunately, isn’t quite there.